ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting has been called a "watershed moment" for the gun control debate, and today one of the men advancing this discussion came to Rockford to see what local leaders think should happen in Washington.
"We have reached a point in America where we have to ask hard questions, when the criminals and those who are mentally unstable are better armed than our police.”
Away from crime scene tape and police cars, it's one of the only times you'll see these men sitting at one table, let alone in the same room.
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin is spearheading a serious conversation about gun control in the Stateline. Rockford Mayor, Larry Morrissey and leaders from area police departments are now working together to find a solution. “If we can put a dent into the gang arch that’s going to help us bring down the crime rate like it did in Aurora,” said Mayor Morrissey.
No one was murdered in aurora in 2012, which is 60-miles southeast of Rockford. However, it’s a different story in Rockford where 14 people were murdered, nine from fatal gunshot wounds.
The number of murders last year, are down but the number of violent crimes, are up so what’s going on here? Some of it, and I don’t mean to be funny, these are bad shots these are people who didn’t kill someone only because they didn't know how to shoot," Durbin said.
Durbin is calling for stiffer security measures when it comes to buying guns. He also wants military assault weapons banned and is calling for background checks. All ideas that have fueled a firestorm debate since the Sandy Hook shooting.
Other than the FOID card, when it comes to those background checks, Durbin says he wants to see if someone trying to buy a gun, committed a felony in the past or has a serious mental illness that may make them unstable, there is so much more to this story. A lot of different angles and points of view on what should be done, employees with Kapguns in Loves Park tell us it's not about the weapon but the person behind it. They say they call Illinois State Police to check every FOID card.
In today’s meeting it came up that most of the gun problems in Rockford surround handguns, not so much assault weapons.
Members of Local Departments say we need stiffer gun laws and a stronger communication between departments. Repeat offenders are causing a lot of the issues. Last year, Rockford police arrested 173 people in the Forest City on gun related crimes.